By Sarah Ward
Living Seas Officer
The beach is a fantastic place to explore at all times of the year, but currently it really is egg-cellent!
As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, many sea creatures start reproducing and we see increased amounts of juvenile creatures and lots of different types of eggs.
Eggs found on the sea shore and in the sea come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, often looking like blobs of goo – you’d be forgiven for overlooking them or mistaking them for something else. They’re certainly quite different to the type of eggs you’d buy for your breakfast!
Not only have we been finding lots of strange and interesting things on our Shoresearch surveys, I’ve also been sent quite a number of photos recently asking what on Earth this alien-like blob is. Although there are a few confusion species which can also look like ‘goo-balls’, such as sea squirts and sponges, at this time of year it is very often eggs. I thought I’d share a few of the most common and most interesting…
These oddities are very often washed ashore during the spring. They are squid eggs and have sadly become dislodged and swept up on the beach with the tide.
A fairly common sight, these distinctive capsules belong to the dog whelk, Nucella lapillus. Often you will find the parent nearby, as pictured here. Try looking for these in cracks, crevices and overhangs on a rocky shore.
Netted Dog Whelk
Although they look quite different, these egg capsules are of the netted dog whelk, Tritia reticulata, a relation of the above species. These dainty egg capsules are a little harder to spot, but may be found growing on seaweed, sea grass or even stones on the lower shore.
Green Leaf Worm
Hiding amongst the pink coral weed you will see here a green egg sac. Although it seems no one knows definitively, it is widely understood that these are the eggs of the green leaf worm, Eulalia viridis.
This is definitely one of the more bizarre specimens we’ve been finding lately, but one that fills me with the most egg-citement (that’s the last bad pun, I promise)! This distinctive mass of pink blobs is the egg mass of a sea slug, a group of marine molluscs which can be somewhat elusive on the seashore. Whilst we may not always see the creatures themselves, finding their eggs is unquestionable evidence that they are there.
Photos by Sarah Ward, Olle Åkesson and Erin Pettifer